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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says protection of the Great Barrier Reef will be further enhanced with the introduction of a new management plan for the Far Northern Section of the Marine Park.
"The Far Northern Section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park contains the richest and most pristine coral reefs in the entire Great Barrier Reef. It also contains important dugong habitat and feeding and nesting sites for 6 species of nationally threatened turtles. It is one of the world's most important and diverse marine areas. The new management plan will ensure high levels of protection for the region's biodiversity and improved management for user's of the Marine Park," he said.
The Far Northern Section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park covers an area of over 85,000 square kilometres (about 25% of the Marine Park), extending from about 100km north of Cooktown to the tip of Cape York.
Senator Hill said an important objective of the plan was to ensure that trawling in the Far Northern Section is carried out in an ecologically sustainable manner.
"Under current arrangements, trawlers do not require a permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). Under the new plan, trawlers in the Far Northern Section will require a permit from GBRMPA unless the Queensland Government introduces a trawl management plan that is accredited by GBRMPA as ensuring that the trawl fishery is ecologically sustainable."
Senator Hill said he hoped Queensland would co-operate and manage the fishery in a sustainable way. This would mean that GBRMPA need not be involved.
"An ecologically sustainable trawl management plan is essential to ensure the long term economic viability of the industry, and to provide security for fishing families along the Queensland coast."
Senator Hill said that the new plan contains several other initiatives:
The new management plan adds to the Federal Government's other recent initiatives to improve protection including increased funding for surveillance and enforcement and the introduction of regulations dealing with aquaculture operations.
Media contact: Rod Bruem (02) 6277 7640